About the author:
Julio Rafael Ortiz was born in Havana, Cuba on October 24, 1959. He emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1961 as a political exile. He was raised in Chicago, Illinois and Miami, Florida. Dr. Ortiz graduated from the University of Miami School of Medicine in 1985 with highest honors. He received his ophthalmic surgical training at Emory University Eye Center where he was Chief Resident and at Duke University Eye Center where he was Hornaday Fellow. He was certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology in 1991. Dr. Ortiz has been in private medical practice in Miami for the past twenty-six years. He specializes in cataract, glaucoma, and corneal transplantation surgery.
Privately, J.R. Ortiz has four children and lives with his lovely wife in Coral Gables, Florida. He is an avid reader of history, economics, sociology, and political science. His interest in freedom was born from his own experiences in the Cuban diaspora. The costs of freedom must be understood by all Americans. The American Amaranth anthology shows that honor, courage, hope, and love are the foundation for freedom in America. With these noble virtues, "American Amaranth" will never fade and never die.
*The amaranth flower is a symbol for all things we wish eternal. The flower in the picture is losing its petals. It's a metaphor for what's happening in America and the world. The American Amaranth Anthology is a story of perseverance through dangerous struggle, sorrow, and great loss. The book's essence is its hope and faith in tomorrow.
AMERICAN AMARANTH ANTHOLOGY- Preface to Book Three, AMERICAN REQUIEM
Our universe was born 13.8 billion years ago. From the infinitely hot and dense 'Singularity' of the 'Big Bang', a cosmic inflation and exponential growth of space occurred in trillionths of trillionths of a second. At one-millionth of a second after the 'Big Bang', sufficient cooling allowed energy to be converted into various subatomic particles. Thousands of years later, the first electrically neutral atoms - hydrogen, and then helium and lithium - were formed. Eventually, a billion years later, giant amorphic clouds of these elements coalesced through gravity to form star systems and galaxies. The heavier elements needed for life were formed within the stars and their explosive supernovae.
A 'Dark Energy' drives the progressively accelerating expansion of the universe. Composing seventy per-cent of space, this hypothetical force counteracts the effects of gravity and may eventually lead to 'heat death' and a 'Big Rip' dissolution of the universe. On the other hand, gravity may seize the day, combat 'Dark Energy', and cause the universe to contract in a 'Big Crunch'. This, in turn, may lead to another 'Big Bang' and further cyclic reformations of the universe in an eternal process.
Man only partially and simplistically understands the natures of the titanic physical forces at play in the universe. We don't know what came before the first 'Singularity', or what will come after a potential 'Big Rip'. Metaphysics, philosophy, and religion can never adequately explain the truths of the 'Big Picture'.
However, one thing is certain. Man occupies a tiny planet, orbiting a star in the Milky Way Galaxy. There are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy, and there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe. There may be other intelligent life forms on many other planets in the universe. There may even be parallel universes in a multiversal space. Human beings appear to be insignificant particulate matter in the vastness of the cosmos. This fact is difficult for the human mind to accept. Our insignificance to cosmology is ego-dystonic. It is also spiritually disruptive to those with the mental inclination to consider it.
Mankind may be unimportant in the infinite scope of the cosmos, but we are not unimportant to ourselves or to each other. We need each other on this journey through 'Time and Space'. Human interaction, discourse, and peaceful coexistence are essential to the further cultural advancement of mankind. The evolution of our minds, necessary for future progress in science, medicine, technology, and governance, demands allowance for different religious and ideological beliefs. Race and creed should not be discriminated against. Freedom and justice for all peoples must be safeguarded.
Not all forms of government allow equally for the freedom of thought required in the advancement of humankind. Totalitarian and radical theocratic systems generally do not open a way for personal growth. Racism, bigotry, and religious intolerance and unacceptance do not stimulate creative and constructive thinking. The only result of oppression is fear and stagnation of thought. Limited interpersonal trust and interaction leads to dead societies which drown in their own self-perpetuating misery. Radical restrictive governance is not an acceptable template for the future of mankind.
At present, constitutional republican government with strong 'rule of law' and a deep system of 'checks and balances' is the only viable path for our planet. It is often imperfect and combative. Recently, many Western democracies have found it challenging and difficult. Nevertheless, it remains the best option we have.
The process of man's moral and spiritual growth is never-ending. It may take thousands of years for us to reach an acceptable state of equilibrium that encompasses the world. In the interim, we must not allow discord and belligerence between nations to spin out of control. 'Uncooperative' elements, dedicated to primitive theological thinking and restrictive 'de-civilization', must be slowed down enough to allow more progressive, educated factions in their midst to rise and overcome them. If they don't self-digest, they may require more persuasion from the leading nations of modern civilization. The culmination of efforts must be freedom and justice for all.
The road of human history is pockmarked. Justice and injustice, good and evil, have vied for control of man's destiny for thousands of years. The twenty-first century is no exception. However, our present circumstances are much more complicated and perilous than ever before.
Worldwide economic instability and aggressive posturing by major nations have unsettled relations between governments. China and Russia have pursued angrier anti-American positions, and evolved more supportive relationships with North Korea and Iran. Terror states are becoming major military powers. Cyber-warfare has grown immensely, jeopardizing prospects for peace and increasing chances of war.
Shortages of energy resources, food, and clean water have become existential threats to many countries around the world. All the major powers have battle plans made for the planet's resource-rich areas. China and Japan vie for the oil and gas of the East China Sea. Vietnam and the Philippines are preparing to contest China over the energy riches of the South China Sea. India and Pakistan plan for war over the water of a major river. Europe is energy-starved, and increasingly dependent on unstable sources from Russia and North Africa. The threat of Shia Iranian hegemony over the Persian Gulf throws her neighbors into a wild race for nuclear weapons and destabilizes oil commerce through the Strait of Hormuz. Africa is becoming a large proxy-war battlefield between the Western democracies and China. African sectarian divisions are fanned by the major powers. America and Europe support the Christians, China provides aid to the radical Islamists. Major oil, gas, and mineral fields in Africa are the prize of victory. China and Iran continue to make social inroads into Central and South America, and are gaining share of the region's rich mineral, agricultural, and energy stores. The United States and Russia fight for influence in Eastern Europe, and prepare for the scramble into the arctic and the conquest of its oil deposits. If the world economy doesn't improve dramatically, major war seems inevitable.
Ballistic nuclear technology has proliferated into the 'Terror' regions of the world. Pakistan and North Korea have significant nuclear stockpiles already. Iran seems unstoppable in her quest for nuclear independence. All these nations are shrouded with radical ideology and extreme anti-American sentiment. Atomic weapons have become miniaturized and deliverable by a single person carrying a backpack. The concept of suicide-bomber has suddenly become much more ominous to the nations of the 'Freeworld'. In the future, will the truck-bomber be replaced by the nuke-packer? Millions of lives will be at the mercy of a single terrorist and his fanatical thoughts.
Before the horrors of World War Two, totalitarian despotic governments of the Axis nations ruled over approximately 200 million people. They saw America as being distant from their regional ambitions. The anti-American sentiments in the Axis countries did not reach the fever-pitch levels of our enemies today. Two of the three Axis nations were Christian. None had nuclear weapons or advanced ballistic technology which could target the American homeland. The American heartland did not know the concept of 'Terror'.
The 'Cold War' of the past century pitted the United States of America against the communist ideology of the Soviet Union. They had been allies in the prior world war. Although they were post-WWII enemies, they respected each other. Neither society was suicidal. Neither carried a fanatical religious banner. And both believed in the concept of 'mutually assured destruction'.
Today, our enemies on planet Earth number in the billions. They are radically despotic. They are totalitarian. Some are religiously fanatical, and even suicidal. They are not interested in a balance of power with the US. They seek hegemony and are actively working for it. They hope to project their power around the world. They do not allow for free speech in their countries, and extinguish it violently when confronted with it. Dissent groups within their borders are exterminated. If not outright elimination of our country, they wish at least for a severe weakening and diminution of America. Worst of all, they have nuclear weapons and means to deliver them on our homeland.
Whether the world realizes it or not, American principles of free and democratic government are essential to future global stability. The eventual 'civilization' of humankind rides on the wings of 'American Amaranth'. Man's tiny speck in the cosmos will soon disappear if freedom and justice do not reign on our planet. As Americans, we must not allow domestic struggles or the antipathy of enemies to extinguish our flame of freedom. It is truly the only hope for the world.
This anthology presents the concept of the 'noble American warrior'. The idea may be controversial to many persons around our planet, and unpalatable to some people even in our own country. Notwithstanding, I use the concept generally to represent all Americans, in all walks of life, who take honor in just doing the right thing. Americans who follow the law and do not steal from their neighbors. Those who take responsibility for their families and support the community in times of stress. Those Americans who work hard in their chosen fields and support fair government. Those who don't subsist from our government's largeness unnecessarily and don't abuse the charitable giving of our citizens. The Americans I hold in honor are those who do the most they can to make our country safe, ethically moral, and productive in all of her endeavors to remain a bastion of freedom and justice for the world. We can all be warriors in this struggle.
The American Amaranth Anthology is set in the near future, and follows a family through several generations of personal, national, and international struggle. The Stansfields are not perfect, but they attempt to be in their upholding of the values which have made our country the envy of the world in the past. It is intended to be dramatic and occasionally metaphorical in order to make specific points known. The anthology illustrates the grandness of our country, and reveals the hopes and aspirations of many of our equally responsible citizens. It uses our history as a people to light the path for the future.
Book One, American Amaranth, is seen through the eyes of an aged and sick warrior, Admiral Julian Stansfield, while he carries the weight of his country on his shoulders. Handicapped by personal grief and medical illness, he directs the United States through a major conventional world war. He worries for his three sons who are all scattered around the planet in their respective duties as American military men. Throughout the story, the admiral remembers his beloved late wife, Olivia, and retells all he learned from her about life and freedom.
Book Two, Libertas Americana, takes brothers Julius and Michael Stansfield on a heroic odyssey of high adventure through eastern and central Europe. Ordered to stop a developing terrorist attack on the United States, the brothers face great obstacles and dangers throughout their spy mission. Through their ordeal, they remember the glory of their youth and the greatness of the 'Amaranth'.
Book Three, American Requiem, is a complex tale involving four independent stories in one. A continuation of the saga from books one and two, it incorporates a long lost family diary from the Second World War in North Africa and southern Europe. The journal functions like a time portal into the past as it's read by eldest brother Julius Stansfield, while involved with his two brothers on a CIA mission to Italy in the near future. Julius learns emotional secrets about his paternal grandparents in the US Army Medical Corps during 1943-44. He also gets a privileged insight into the young life of his father, then Lieutenant Julian Stansfield, from the summer of 1975 as the lieutenant spends time caring for his dying mother, Ann Nelson Stansfield. Four parallel stories are carefully interwoven to better illustrate the love between different generations of Stansfields during separate critical times of their lives.
American Requiem highlights the reality that we are, as individuals, an amalgamation of all our life experiences. Like physical traits passed on in our genes, philosophies of life may also transcend generations in a family. Frequently, our ancestors contribute mightily to our 'Gestalt' of being. American Requiem reminds us of the fact that we are often times complex reflections of those who came before us. The struggles of the past help forge us in the present. Many times, we are what we were. Our 'garden of life' was planted before us. We simply tend it, and help it to grow and prosper further. We have a duty to remember loved ones who set the path to the garden, and insist those who come after us continue to nurture the flowers already planted. Common sacrifice leads to common goodness. We must make the world better.
Common to all the books of the anthology is a deep love between individuals caught in the trying times of war. All the heroes attempt to uphold the principles of freedom and justice, knowing they are the framework from which great cultures evolve and prosper. They all do the most they can to increase the small benevolent imprint that mankind makes in the vastness of the cosmos.
Love is the nucleus of the anthology. It sits at the core of the story. Without love, there is no reason for our existence in the cosmos. It simply would be too unbearable. Without love, there is no purpose for freedom. Being 'free' is pointless if you aren't free to love. Love is the oldest and most powerful energy source in our universe. It is our greatest and purest resource. It needs no refinement. Love defies gravity and 'Dark Energy'. In its truest form, it explodes more brightly than the splitting of atoms and outlasts the nuclear fusion powering the stars. It is all-consuming, conserving, and regenerative at the same time. No laws of nature can explain it. None can control it. No force can stop it. It is the ultimate 'Singularity'. It is from where all goodness comes. It is where we all seek to go. It will continue to be all these things into tomorrow. Young love is eternal. It is the driving force of the world. Its power existed before the 'Big Bang', and will radiate long into the future - unknown but to God.